"Invading Agendas"
Mark 3:19b-35
Sermon Preached by Jill Getty
June 10, 2012

All of us have set goals and agendas for ourselves only to realize that other people have different plans they think we should follow.  What do we do in those situations?  Cave in to the other agenda or stick to our original plan?

In Mark 3, Jesus has recently started his ministry of preaching, teaching and healing in the Galilean area.  In the verses prior to this story, Jesus had just called his band of twelve disciples to be his special followers and friends in ministry.  A throng of people were already following him everywhere he went.  He gained popularity with the common people just as quickly as he gained notoriety with the religious officials.

To get a glimpse at how Jesus' family saw this whole situation, visualize this scenario:

Imagine being the owner of a lucrative family business that helps support your widowed mother, your younger siblings and yourself.  However, deep in your heart you feel that God has a mission adventure for you.  This mission adventure is not just a week long trip to another country where you do a few good works, but it is a mission that you believe God has called you to do for the rest of your life.

If you do this mission adventure you will have to travel to numerous places; therefore, you will be unable to continue managing the family business.  The real kicker to this mission calling is that it will not provide you or your family with any steady income.  There will be no guarantees of income to pay the monthly bills.

Your new job will be risky, have no financial security, and you will no longer have an esteemed position in your community.

One night at the dinner table you announce to your mother, brothers and sisters that you are giving up the family business in order to follow God's call in your life to preach on street corners and hand out gospel tracks.  You also tell them that you will be walking from town to town and most likely have no real place of your own to call home - you will stay with a few people along the way who are willing to take you in and on the other nights, you will just sleep under the stars.

Do you think your family will be concerned that you might have lost your mind?  Do you think that your family would believe that you had misinterpreted what God wanted you to do?  Maybe they would even think you had turned into a religious fanatic.

Well, this is similar to what happened in Jesus' life.  After his father's death, Jesus had taken over the family carpentry business that provided a steady income for his widowed mother, younger brothers and sisters and himself.  Yes Jesus had brothers and sisters.  The Gospel of Mark names Jesus' four brothers -James, Joseph, Judas and Simon and the same verse mentions that Jesus had sisters.[i] We know our Catholic friends may interpret these verses as Jerome did in the fourth century to mean that Jesus had cousins (not brothers or sisters).[ii] There are others who believe Mary remained a perpetual virgin during marriage after Jesus was born and say that these brothers and sisters were actually from Joseph's previous marriage to another woman.[iii] However, the gospel of Mark states that Jesus actually had brothers and sisters.  I think many of us can find comfort in the fact that Jesus grew up with in a normal Jewish family life.

So to start his earthly ministry, Jesus had given up his home, financial security, and his position within his community.[iv]

His family was worried about him; they had received word that people were following him everywhere and that he was so busy that he did not even have time to eat.  The Bible says, they thought he was out of his mind.

All of you here have probably had times in your life when you were so busy that you did not even stop to take a lunch break or you worked through supper.  That was Jesus.

His family had come on the scene to rescue him from himself and to take care of him.  It is obvious they love him, but it is also obvious they do not yet fully understand his mission, goals, and agendas in life.  They fear for his physical and mental well-being.

Alongside of this family situation is another group of people who are enamored by Jesus.  To them, he has become Jesus the Great.  He preaches and teaches like no one else they have ever heard.  And even more astonishingly, he heals diseases and casts out demons.

The people in his day went to quacks for doctors.  Most diseases had no cure; some diseases made a person an outcast to society - Jesus had the power to heal them - everyone wanted to touch the hem of Jesus' cloak.

And he had control over evil power - he was an exorcist - they saw him cast out demons from people.  I believe this is a way for us today to say that Jesus had healing power for mental, emotional, and spiritual problems, as well.  Jesus was the psychiatrist, psychologist, family counselor and family physician all rolled into one.  He was indeed the recommended doctor for his day.  No wonder he was followed everywhere by a throng of people.

At the same time that people adored him; there were those who equally hated Jesus - the religious leaders.  In this story, a delegation of Pharisees from Jerusalem have come to derail Jesus.[v]

So Jesus has three groups of people on his heels all at the same time in this story - all with different and invading agendas:

1.       His Family - who want to rescue him

2.       His Followers - who invade all his space, time and energy

3.      The Pharisees - who hate him and want to defeat him

We know through study and archeology that the house Jesus made into his home base in the Galilean ministry was the house of his disciple Peter located in Capernaum.[vi]

Peter's home became the place where all this controversy for Jesus occurred - a place where Jesus is pulled in three powerful directions.  Jesus could have felt torn - in a dilemma - what should I do?  Who should I listen to?  However, we see Jesus in a strong position of authority in his encounters with each group.  He sticks to his mission and is not swayed by anything but what he believes he is called to do by God.

The most threatening group Jesus has to deal with is the Pharisees.  They have political power to take Jesus down.  But when the Pharisees accuse Jesus of doing his miracles and exorcisms with the power of Satan; Jesus boldly stands up to them and makes one of his famous quotes saying:  "...if a house is divided against itself that house will not be able to stand..."

I realize that many people think that Abraham Lincoln is the originator of the quote, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."  But Lincoln was a deeply religious Christian and he was actually quoting Jesus.  Lincoln made great stands against the evil of slavery in his day.  In the 1858 "House Divided" Speech which Lincoln made at the Illinois Republican convention in his bid for US Senate, Lincoln stood against the Dred Scott Decision in which the United States Supreme Court had denied the freedom of the slave Dred Scott and his family.  Lincoln knew the evil of slavery was dividing the nation.[vii] [viii] I believe one of Lincoln's God given agendas was to stand against the evil of slavery.

Jesus tells the Pharisees in the scripture today that he has come to set people free.  Interestingly, Jesus wants to give people their freedom - that is one of his agendas - to give freedom from disease, addictions and emotional and spiritual problems; but the Pharisees want to stifle and kill that same freedom - that is one of their agendas.

In the next paragraph things have calmed down and the crowd is sitting around Jesus while he is teaching and someone brings up the fact that Jesus' family members are still there waiting to rescue him.  That is when Jesus says, "Whoever, does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."  Basically Jesus is saying we belong to the family of God when we do what God wants us to do.  What is God's agenda for our lives?

Many times choosing the way of God is not easy - it requires courage.  Sometimes we may feel like Jesus - pulled in three very powerful and real directions and we have to make the decision to stay focused on what we believe we are to do.

There are many stories of people who are dedicated to a course of action to help bring freedom and justice to others.

Manal al-Sharif is a Saudi Arabian Woman who has helped start the Saudi Women's Spring in Saudi Arabia to liberate women - to give them back their voice, names, and faces.  She recently spoke in May at the Oslo Freedom Forum 2012 - a beautiful 17-minute speech that can be found on YouTube - I would encourage you to watch it.

She talks about being born in 1979 and how the Islamic terrorists help brainwash her and many others in her nation.  She said that through the 1980s and 1990s, women's faces, names and voices all became sinful - so that the face was covered; the woman's name was not spoken.  She said in those times they became voiceless, nameless, and faceless, women were banned from driving, and blamed for anything wrong that may happen when they left the home.  Manal described that her turning point in life was 9-11 - watching the news and watching people throw themselves out of the towers to escape the burning building.  In June 2011, Manal, launched a women's driving campaign encouraging Saudi women to test the law against women driving.  She did the first drive herself by driving around while a friend videoed the event.  She said in that video, she used her face, her voice and her real name.  She was arrested and held for nine days.  Many protested on her behalf and she was released.  Manal said that their Saudi Women's Spring is not just about gaining driving privileges - that it is about being in the driver's seat of our own destinies.  Many in her country believe that she should remain quiet about these issues, but she is dedicated to her cause of women's freedom in Saudi Arabia.[ix]

In 1408, the English Parliament made a law forbidding anyone to translate the Bible into English.  The official Bible was written in Latin - a language the common people did not understand.  But religious officials were afraid for common people to have the Bible in their own language.

However, in the early 1500s William Tyndale felt led by God to translate the Bible into English - he had to flee England to carry out his mission and translate the Bible undercover.  He smuggled his Bibles back to England in sacks of wheat.  The common people loved them, but the religious authorities hated them and burned all they could find.  Eventually Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English - His dying prayer was "Lord, open the King of England's eyes."  Within two years of his dying prayer, the Bible was legally printed in English and put on display in every parish church in England so the common people could read the Bible for themselves.  Tyndale stuck to his God-led agenda even in the face of death.[x]

There are many causes and concerns in our world today.  Many forces and groups pull us in different directions just as they did in Jesus' day.  Jesus stuck to his mission to bring freedom, healing and salvation.  Some received it and others refused it.

The resurrected Christ still brings freedom, healing and salvation - Christ calls us to be part of His family; to walk with Him in this suffering world to bring mercy and compassion and hope for now and for eternity.  What is Christ leading you to do?


Has God put a burning agenda in your heart?

Have you been able to do that agenda (in full, in part, or not at all)?

Are there other agendas that interfere with this God given agenda?

How do you deal with interfering, invading and conflicting agendas?

What can help you recommit to the agenda that you believe God is l

[i] Mark 6:3

[ii] Henry E. Turlington, The Broadman Bible Commentary, General Articles Matthew - Mark Volume 8, (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1969) p. 295.

[iii] "Catholic Teachings Regarding The Brothers of Jesus" at http://www.catholicdoors.com/misc/apologetics/brothersofjesus.htm , 2008, accessed May 26, 2012.

[iv] William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark, revised edition, (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975) pp. 76-77.

[v] C.S. Mann, The Anchor Bible, Mark: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary Volume 27, (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1986), p.253.

[vi] Walter W. Wessel and William Lane contributors for Mark, NIV Study Bible, general ed. Kenneth L. Barker, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2008 update), Notes & Bible Helps, and diagram, p. 1469, 1572.  See also Mark 1:29-30 and Matthew 4:13.

[vii] Wikipedia, "Dred Scott" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dred_Scott accessed May 26, 2012.

[viii] Abraham Lincoln, "House Divided Speech, June 16, 1858" at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2934.htr, website acknowledges speech reprinted from Annals of America, 1968, 1976 Encylcopedia Brittanica, Inc., accessed May 26, 2012.

[ix] Manal al-Sharif, "The Drive for Freedom, May 10, 2012" at Oslo Freedom Forum 2012: Out of Darkness into Light, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPXXNK-3zi , accessed May 26, 2012.

[x] Lukas Media, The Story of the English Bible, (Jenks, Oklahoma: Lukas Media, 2010), DVD - media  (http://www.lukasmediadistribution.com )

1502 West 13th St. Ù  Wilmington, DE 19806 Ù  302-654-5214 Ù  Fax: 302-654-5706 Ù  www.wpc.org